Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow. It only saps today of its joy.” ~Leo Buscaglia
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been the worrywart extraordinaire.
Worry: verb: To give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
Fret, be anxious, brood, stress, panic.
If worry came with a degree, mine would be a PhD.
As a child I worried about my schoolwork. I worried if other kids would laugh, or not, as the case may be. I worried if I’d pass the test, miss the bus, make the team, or fall on my face.
As I grew, so did my worries. Not only did I worry about myself, I also worried about my friends and family. I even worried about complete strangers.
My worry became paralyzing.
As soon as I decided on a course of action, my worry went to the other extreme. I’d worry that I’d be late to an interview, and when I arrived in plenty of time I worried that I was too early. And when my family and friends began to bring it to my attention, I worried about how much time I spent worrying!
It seemed that nothing was right, that there was no way to stop this endless cycle.
Then one day, as I sat in a little cafe (worrying if I had ordered the right thing), I over heard a snippet of conversation from the next table over.
Two older women were seated there, one obviously of the nervous nature, conservatively dressed, worrying about doing everything right. The other, flamboyantly dressed, seemed as comfortable as if she sat in her own living room. By the ease with which they talked, it was obvious they had been friends for a long time.
“You’re such a worrywart,” flamboyant said. “I’m surprised that you don’t worry about where your next breath of oxygen will come from!”
The “worrywart” part got my attention; the “next breath” statement kept it. This stuck with me, niggling in the back of my mind.
“I’m surprised you don’t worry about where your next breath will come from” kept popping into my thoughts unannounced.
Of all the many, many, many things I’ve worried about, I can honestly say I’ve never worried about taking my next breath.
It got me thinking: Why am I so trusting in my next breath when I’m so untrusting of in so many other areas? Suddenly I was on a mission. I had to figure this out.
So I began to keep a list of all the things I worried about. And you know what? I discovered something truly amazing.
I discovered that when I acknowledged the things I was worried about, they became less frightful. In fact, when I reread my list of worries, some of them seemed downright silly. I discovered that most of my worries were completely out of my control.
I began to wonder, if I had that much faith in my next breath, why not have faith that all things would work out for the best?
I found myself thinking,“What if I believed everything would work out for the best?”
I started to play a little game with myself, something I call the serendipity game. It goes like this:
If I’m running late and find a front row parking place—serendipity! Write it down.
If I’m thinking of a friend and they call two seconds later—serendipity! Write it down.
If I’m wishing for a little extra cash and find $20 in my coat pocket—serendipity! Write it down.
The more I looked for these serendipity moments, the more I found—and the less I worried.
Did all the worry, anxiety, and nervousness disappear? Not entirely. We all worry from time to time, but now I know how to stop it in its tracks!
The next time you find yourself in worrywart mode, try this:
- Write down all your worries. Every single one.
- Read the list and ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do about it?” If not, let it go.
- Keep a serendipity list to consciously notice everything that works out well. (You may be surprised!)
It’s funny how a little part of an overheard conversation could make such a difference.
Funny how a little serendipity can change a life.